Happy Birthday Princes Hill
White Elephants can Last
It was a cold, windy Monday morning, but there were Festivities in Arnold Street, Carlton on 2 September 1889. Two hundred and ﬁfty youngsters dressed in their Sunday best, parents, teachers, dignitaries and honoured guests braved the weather to witness the inauguration of State School 2955, Princes Hill.
James Robertson, chairman of the Carlton School Board of Advice, began the ceremonies. In his speech, he pointed out that this was the sixth school to be opened in Carlton. With the suburb’s rapid growth, there were 5000 students on the rolls of the Carlton schools, and almost 4000 were regular attenders. For the rest - the families who drifted from suburb to suburb and ‘sadly neglected’ their children’s schooling - Robertson urged the Department of Public Instruction and its truant officer to ‘take that class in hand’ and enforce the compulsory provisions of the 1872 Education Act.
Robertson then invited Dr Charles Pearson, Minister of Public Instruction and architect of Victoria’s state school system, to open the school. Pearson began by expressing his satisfaction that 230 students had enrolled in the school that very morning. There had been ‘a good deal of demur’ when the matter of building a school at Princes Hill was ﬁrst raised, but the Department would be happy to extend the school if students attended in sufficient numbers. Pearson lectured the assembled students on the necessity of attending school, then went on to praise the school’s large playground. If the training of the mind went on in the classroom, he opined, the training of the character occurred in the playground. He expressed the hope that the students would carry into the playground ‘the same feeling of discipline and duty, and the same sense of loyalty to one another, and the same morals, as they exhibited in the classroom’.
Dr Charles Pearson
John Gardiner MLA gave a brief reply. He expressed his gratitude at the large turnout, which had given the lie to those who claimed that a school at Princes Hill would be a ‘white elephant’. He thanked all those who had supported him in his campaign to have the school established.
John Gardiner MLA, in his playing days as captain of Carlton Football Club.
He was followed by Mr Leonard MLA, who echoed Robertson’s call for more truant ofﬁcers. The official function over, ﬁfty of the ‘gentlemen’ present were invited to lunch in the school building as guests of the Carlton Board of Advice. The assembled children were let off for the rest of the day. No doubt many were grateful for the chance to go home and warm their hands by the ﬁre.
- From Prinny Hill: The State Schools of Princes Hill 1889-1989 by Nicholas Vlahogiannis